Modern safety regulations for children's play equipment are a wonderful
thing. But for free-range-leaning parents who wax nostalgic for the
halcyon days before plastic slides and rounded corners, when childhood
presented frequent opportunities to unleash one's inner Bob the
Builder, there's a little slice of paradise in the Berkeley Marina.
After signing away your rights to sue in the event of injury, you can
let your child climb, paint, and build to his or her heart's content.
The air is filled with salt-scented bay breezes and the "wham! wham!"
of little carpenters hammering scrap-plywood additions onto wonky
handmade forts, ladders, and seesaws. Despite the liberal lending of
saws and hammers to children, park staffers keep things relatively safe
and civilized. You have to pick up trash or loose nails or report a
glaring hazard in order to use a tool. Adventure Playground is better
the older you get. Toddlers might get frustrated by the level of
parental vigilance required here. Preschoolers delight in playing
pirate or princess on sand-moored boats. Those six and over can ride a
zip line. For somewhat self-sufficient kids over seven, there's
drop-off daycare. And for adults inclined toward industrial arts or
anarchy, this place is heaven.